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Making news this week: fire, feminism and the world's best vodka

Making news this week: fire, feminism and the world's best vodka
Arrangement and photo by foraging florist Eliza Rogers, who you'll meet in our In the Flock this week.
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Anna Rogan
Anna Rogan Tallarook, Victoria
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A new newsie, a new world and a big stump to mark it all. Welcome to Galah Weekly, our newsie newsletter keeping you up-to-date with regional headlines that matter, plus other delightful things from life beyond the city.

Regional news round-up

Hot, windy and dangerous. Fires were already burning in Victoria’s west at the start of the week when more than half of the state went under extreme bushfire alert—and more than 30,000 people were urged to leave their homes—ahead of hot, windy and dangerous conditions forecast for Wednesday. The later part of the week brought a break in the weather with the worst of the fires under control, but hundreds of firefighters and many more support staff remain on the ground as conditions are likely to worsen again next week. Full story.

Mind the gap. The all-female team at Galah watched with interest as gender pay-gap data for Australian businesses was reported publicly for the first time this week. But regional women were largely overlooked because businesses with fewer than 100 employees—and in regional Australia, that’s most of them—were exempt from the most recent round of reporting by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. If anyone deserves a break from admin and paperwork, it’s small businesses, but advocates are concerned that the lack of data might mean regional women are the ones losing out. Full story.

Meanwhile, big brands across the nation faced criticism over substantial gender pay gaps, and the agriculture industry was not immune with women in the sector reportedly being paid an average 16.9% less than men. Full story.

Step aside, Ruski, there’s a new vodka in town. Being neighbour to the Big Pineapple just wasn’t enough for ambitious craft distillery Sunshine and Sons. The small Sunshine Coast operation recently also took the title of World's Best Botanical Vodka. Unlike the lemon ruskis of my misspent youth, this vodka is no paddock-party plonk. Instead of potatoes, it’s made with surplus grapes and grape waste from winemakers in the Barossa Valley, along with homemade water (don’t ask us how that works) filtered through layers of locally sourced volcanic rock. It’s a process and we’re here for it. Full story.

Chicken or beef? It’ll be neither if certain Australian meat marketers have their way. With 90% of the nation’s goat production currently shipped overseas, Meat and Livestock Australia is campaigning to get goat on more dinner plates at home. Full story. Meanwhile, the marketing team at a Maleny-based dairy is flying the flag for buffalo, claiming it’s a deliciously versatile and healthy alternative to everyone’s favourite bovine, the cow. Full story.

All you need is one good pub. Clermont in Central Queensland is as outback as it gets. With a healthy mining industry and plenty of jobs to go round, the town is proving a real draw for young couples who are happy to hang up the big city life—as long as there’s at least one good pub in town. Full story.

Galah goss

This week at Galah. The presses began rolling on Issue 09; Anna Rogan took over as Weekly Editor; and Katie (Galah's customer service angel/Annabelle's sister/primary school teacher) was told by one of her students that she "smelled like a horse".

Donning the newsie cap. This week we welcome new Galah Weekly Editor, Anna Rogan, who will be slinging the regional news on your digital front porches every Sunday. Described as "dazzlingly talented, a decent marmalade maker and shorter than I expected", we hope you enjoy her wit and warmth as much as we do.

Anna, what are your credentials as the new newsie for Galah?

Well, I started my career in comms and media, writing daily morning news round-ups for bankers. That was yonks ago now (about 14 years), but I’ve been writing professionally, and reading the news slightly less professionally, ever since.

What about your regional credentials?

I’m relatively new to regional life, actually. My husband and I relocated from Melbourne to a 17-acre olive farm in Tallarook, Central Victoria, in 2019. He works in environment and land management, I work as a freelance writer, and we manage the kids and the olives together (poorly if I’m honest. Please don’t ask us when we’ll have oil. Maybe never).

So what's Tallarook like?

Small but lovely! The official population count sits at about 200, and there are just 30 or so students at the local primary school (two of them are mine), although there’s a bigger town nearby. With fewer people around, everyone has to pitch in to get things done. So on top of everything else, I have unwisely found myself on a couple of volunteer community committees (I’m sure readers can relate), including as co-chair of our local food and wine festival Tastes of the Goulburn

Ok, one last question, what has surprised you about regional life?

It’s far more creative and challenging than I imagined it would be. And the experiences and people in regional Australia are more distinctive and varied, too. I’m looking forward to learning, meeting and writing about them, and sharing the news that matters to us all.

Galah goes digital. In case you missed it, we've created an online world for all things Galah, aptly named Galah Digital. Wrist strain and RSI be damned, the team has been working hard to upload the entire back catalogue of Galah magazine stories and articles for you to read, revisit, and share. We started with Issue 08, and we’re working our way back, so there’s plenty in the Galah Digital world right now for you to explore and more to come.

Say hi to your Mum for me. We have something special for mums that will also score you brownie points for being the organised sibling this Mother’s Day. Our beautifully packaged Galah book, mag and bookmark bundle is ready to pre-order. It includes our brand new hardcover book celebrating three years of Galah, Issue 09 of the magazine and an 18cm x 5.5cm limited-edition bookmark designed and handmade by talented fabric flower artist Leesa Cowan. Mum’ll love it.

What's on

Siahne Rogers, Everything Must Go, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2023. Photo Jessica Wyld.

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe. WA’s annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition features a series of large-scale works along Perth’s best-known beach and surrounding grassy areas. This year’s event also features workshops, kids tours and live performances by the Perth Symphony Orchestra, and it’s on now until 18 March. Read more.

A Taste of the Huon. The town of Ranelagh hosts the 31st A Taste of the Huon festival, celebrating the fine food, wine, entertainment, art and crafts of Tasmania's Huon Valley and Channel regions. Get your fill of apples, cherries, mushrooms, salmon, wine, ciders, beer, berries, truffles and more. On 10-11 March. Read more.

Radiate. HOTA Gallery on the Gold Coast is currently hosting artist Donna Marcus’ exhibition, Radiate. Read more below.

From the collection of the artist Donna Marcus titled GABO 2022 – 2023 (detail), aluminium, led lights. Image courtesy of the artist and Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney. Photo Heather Faulkner.

Newsletter partner. Home of the Arts (HOTA) welcomes Radiate, a survey exhibition of internationally acclaimed artist Donna Marcus’ past 20-plus years of practice. In this exhibition, Marcus threads familial connection with conceptual and historical underpinnings, from marine salvaging in the early 1900s to themes of memory, minimalism and geometry. A former long-term resident of the Gold Coast hinterland, Marcus is a dedicated collector of domestic materials that she uses to explore the formal properties of composition, form and pattern. Discover more.

Visit HOTA Gallery on the Gold Coast. Entry is free. 

In the flock

Eliza Rogers, florist

Eliza Rogers in her studio, This Natural World, in South Hobart.

Among the weeds and wildlife in the foothills of kunanyi/Mount Wellington in Hobart, you’ll find florist Eliza Rogers. Like a modern-day Brontë heroine, she forages for flowers, branches, weeds and other botanical curiosities to use in her work. Prickles and callouses aside, it’s almost as idyllic as you’d imagine. 

So, Eliza, tell us what you do for work and play.

A lot of foraging. At my floristry practice, This Natural World, I specialise in event flowers, large-scale installations and everlasting pieces for homes and businesses, and I'm very lucky that my work often feels like play. Although for strictly non-work play, I've been leaning into watercolours—mostly abstract and very fluid. It's incredibly relaxing.

As a serial hobbyist, I used to think "I can do it all" (and boy have I tried), but slowly I'm beginning to wonder if I ought to pull focus and choose a top few things to do often and (hopefully) well.

Weeds and watercolours aside, what else has been absorbing your attention lately? 

Oh, just the small things like time and the notion of how we spend it (blame it on Oliver Burkeman and his book Four Thousand Weeks). And ikigai—a Japanese concept that can help you find your "reason for being". On a less existential plane, I’m in the process of slowly learning about the medicinal properties of plants.

Back on the subject of plants, then. What’s something about floristry that you absolutely do not understand?

Why some florists still insist on using toxic floral foam. I used to think it was due to a gap in knowledge or education, but with all the resources out there (the Sustainable Floristry Network is a great one), I’m baffled. I really hope there is a greater shift in this, so I'm not still baffled by the same issue in five years.

Can you tell us a bit about your family?

I grew up in Guyra in NSW and most of my family still live there, doing things I admire. My siblings are both farmers working very hard to regenerate their properties, including the farm where I grew up. My dad is the passionate foodie-slash-grazier behind Door Key Wagyu. He has been breeding Black Angus and Wagyu cattle herds for more than 30 years and was even inducted into the Wagyu Hall of Fame last year. He shares his knowledge and enthusiasm freely, and I think our late mum would be proud of him.

Let’s say we’re coming to Tasmania, where should we eat, stay and shop?

I’d have to choose New Norfolk. Eat at the Agrarian Kitchen (the kiosk for casual fare, or their eatery for a treat). Then traipse around town looking for a souvenir; you might get lucky at Flywheel, Miss Arthur, Drill Hall Emporium, Black Swan Books or any of the junky antique stores. Bonus points if the Saturday markets are on. If you're looking for a gentle adventure, you could stay at the National Park Hotel near Mount Field. The pub rooms are a little kooky, but you can walk to Russell Falls, and you might even spot a platypus.

Editor’s note: If you’re planning a Tassie traipse, you might like to dive into our extended Northern Tasmania travel guide. This one is for paid subscribers only. If you’re not one but you’d like to be, you can subscribe here (you’ll get three print mags a year for just $30 each plus access to the entire Galah Digital world).

One last thing

Beyond the black stump. Living a long way from civilisation comes with a certain sense of pride for regional Australians. No wonder the location of the black stump (and the famed area beyond it) is hotly contested, with at least three towns currently claiming that their stump is the OG. Meanwhile, many more stumps with various pedigrees exist as monuments to the early history and undeniable remoteness of regional towns across Australia. 

In Paringa, SA, the alleged “largest of 11 known black stumps in Australia” was recently relocated from wood carver Frank Turton’s front yard to a local community museum, thus preserving its legacy for generations to come. With the black stump safely ensconced in its apparent final home, it had us at Galah wondering: who’s caring for the beyond? 

We really must insist that you follow this link for the full story behind the Paringa stump, including an unmissable photo of Frank masterfully sailing his monstrous eight-tonne, eight-metre-wide find down the Murray River in 1984.

What’s new(s)?

We love to hear about the news, events and people you think should be making the Galah Weekly. Share what’s new(s) in your neck of the woods with us at newsie@galahpress.com